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Nov. 27, 2012 at 6:50 PM
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Stocks drop Tuesday

NEW YORK, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. stocks dropped Tuesday as investors digested a barrage of economic reports and a report from Paris that predicted a global slowdown in 2013.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders were stagnant from September to October. Orders rose 1.5 percent excluding big-ticket transportation items, the category that prompted a sharp increase in orders in September.

A closely watched housing market report, the S&P Case-Shiller home price index, indicated a 3 percent rise in prices in the 20-city index, the larger of the two indexes the report covers.

In Europe, stocks were given a boost as financial leaders reached an agreement to allow international bailout funds to be released for Greece. On the negative side, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris predicted economic growth expectations among its 34 members for 2013 had slowed from an earlier prediction of 2.2 percent growth to 1.4 percent.

By close of trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 89.24 points or 0.69 percent to 12,878.13.

The Nasdaq shed 8.99 points or 0.3 percent to 2,967.79. The Standard & Poor's 500 lost 7.35 points or 0.52 percent to 1,3908.94.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,349 stocks advanced and 1,695 declined on a volume of 3.2 billion shares traded.

The 10-year treasury note rose 8/32 to yield 1.639 percent.

The euro fell to $1.2939 from Monday's $1.2972. The dollar rose to 82.12 yen from 82.08 yen.

Japan's Nikkei rose 0.37 percent, 34.36 points, to 9,423.30.

Britain's FTSE 100 index added 0.22 percent, 12.99 points, to 5,799.71.

Buffett picks Dimon to replace Geithner

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Billionaire investor Warren Buffett endorsed Jamie Dimon, the top executive at JPMorgan Chase, to follow Timothy Geithner as treasury secretary.

"I think he'd be terrific. If we did run into problems in markets, I think he'd actually be the best person you could have in the job," Buffett said.

CNNMoney reported Tuesday Dimon is known as President Obama's favorite bank executive.

Working against him as a contender for Geithner's job Dimon's opposition to the Dodd-Frank Act, much of which he would have to implement as head of the Treasury Department.

In addition, JPMorgan Chase lost $5.8 billion in May in a much-publicized trading fiasco.

But Buffett argued that the bank's trading losses should not block Dimon's chances of becoming secretary of the Treasury.

Geithner is expected to announce his departure soon. He previously said he did not want to stay past Obama's first term in office.

Solar power system prices still falling

BERKELEY, Calif., Nov. 27 (UPI) -- The installed price of solar photovoltaic power systems in the United States is dropping at a rapid rate, a Department of Energy laboratory says.

An annual cost-tracking report produced by the department's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found the price of residential and commercial photovoltaic systems completed in 2011 fell by roughly 11 to 14 percent from the year before.

The price reductions are attributable, in large part, to dramatic reductions in photovoltaic module prices, which have been falling precipitously since 2008, a release from the Berkeley lab said Tuesday.

Accompanying costs, such as installation labor, marketing, overhead and current inverters, have also fallen significantly over time, the report's authors said.

"The drop in non-module costs is especially important," co-author Ryan Wiser of Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division said, "as these costs can be most readily influenced by local, state, and national policies aimed at accelerating deployment and removing market barriers."

The median installed price of photovoltaic power systems installed in 2011 was $6.10 per watt for residential and small commercial systems smaller than 10 kilowatts in size and was $4.90 per watt for larger commercial systems of 100 kilowatts or more in size, the report said.

The average installed price of a home solar system ranges between $15,000 and $40,000, industry sources said.

Discover tests fingerprint payment system

CHICAGO, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. credit card firm Discover Financial Services said it was using its employees to test a fingerprint-oriented payment system.

About 350 employees at the company will be able to pay for items at the company cafeteria and at local convenience stores by placing an index finger on a fingerprint reader.

To complete the transaction, however, the employee must also have an individually coded key fob nearby -- in a pocket, for example.

The Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday Discover and French biometrics firm National Security are working in partnership on developing the fingerprint payment system.

This is not the first fingerprint-oriented payment system. Pay-by-Touch began a similar system in 2006. But the project was forced to close in 2008 as Pay-by-Touch got into financial difficulties.

The company said at one point it had 10,000 subscribers, all from Chicago, who were testing the system.

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